My house isn’t the only thing that leaves me cold

Two weeks ago, I shut off my winter heat, rendering my house a nice toasty 59 degrees on a sunny day. Toss snow into the equation of “I’m going to save money (and carbon) even if it hurts me,” and the temperature does a quick loopy-loop on its rapid plunge to 54 degrees.

Two weeks ago, I shut off my winter heat, rendering my house a nice toasty 59 degrees on a sunny day. Toss snow into the equation of “I’m going to save money (and carbon) even if it hurts me,” and the temperature does a quick loopy-loop on its rapid plunge to 54 degrees.

Yes, in my stubbornness, we had it 31 degrees outside, 54 inside.

There was only one thing to do, really, only one. Even the cat agreed.

Go to California.

California, where the air is warmer and everything they say about the place is true. California, where it’s sunny and gorgeous and smells fabulous.

California, where you can rent a Prius and cruise the lush canyons without ever stopping for gas.

Where you can hike the foothills of the Saddleback Mountains and catch a cactus in bloom. Where everything, in fact, is in bloom, and where even bougainvillea flowers in March and hummingbirds fill every bush and tree.

Trees and hummingbirds, I thought I knew them both, but these were endlessly fascinating.

I’d stop people on the sidewalks and ask them to identify, please. They would – lemon and olive trees and bottlebrushes – but not before giving me that look that I used to get from urbanite friends when I first left the farm and would marvel over things.

“Yes, Mary, that’s a tree and that’s a car and that’s a door.”

Enthusiasm is sadly unappreciated.

It was hard to come back from California with its trees and its warmth. Back to a house that had dropped to a frigid 49 degrees while I was gone.

Don’t worry, the cats, dog and fish were well-tended, all boarded — even the fish, who lodged with a friend.

On a side note, potentially and possibly dangerously humorous, (forgive me for that) my friend wanted to know the fish’s name. Well, how does one name a fish? You can’t.

I don’t know what he wants to be called. So, I told her that his name was Fish Friend, because, “Hey, he’s a fish and he’s my friend.”

“OK,” she said, “So what are we, in kindergarten?”

When you go down to California with the eyes of a kindergartener and arrive back the same, you realize that there are things here as baffling as fish names and trees.

The proposed roundabout, for instance, at the intersection of Tremont and Sidney. Is that really a problem intersection? Does it warrant all the expense and traffic delays to revise?

If our good Fire Chief, Wayne Senter, believes that a roundabout would compromise response times and safety, I say we should listen to him and save the money.

Senter is a wise man. He served for years on the “developmental assets” task force that looked, through surveys and such, at what our kids are missing in their lives.

After watching Suanne Martin-Smith with South Kitsap Helpline host 50 some children at a rented space, constructing amazing art projects out of recycled materials that were donated by community members, it’s evident that certain needs are still there, very much alive.

We still need a safe place for our children, our seniors and our families. I still believe we need a community recreational center.

I know, but I promised a dying man that I would help to see that you get one, some day. That some day the broader community needs could be met and not ignored.

I am guardedly optimistic, but afraid. The county just hired the Tacoma-based planning, design and engineering firm, BCRA, to develop a master plan for the South Kitsap Community Park. There is a good chance the public process will be clean and open.

There’s a chance if you speak up, you can let them know that we need a place for after-school programs, for art and theater, for recreation and fun.

You could tell them that we have no community gardens, that we lack bike and walking trails and that it would be nice to take your stroller and your baby out into the fresh air without having to drive to a Silverdale park.

You could tell them that it seems unfair that every other community that surrounds us gets a HOPE (Boys and Girls Club) Center, while we are forgotten and told that we should be happy with small programs.

You could tell them that it’s not right that they think we don’t merit more than just the scraps that come from the table, that if it saves money, one could and should be happy with a house that is 54 degrees.

The problem is though, that it’s an election year and that with people in high positions retiring and campaigning, I fear that campaigns and egos will take center stage and your needs, the broader needs of this community will be eclipsed.

Maybe not, but still I fear.

Sarcasm and humor aside, it’s possible to craft win-win situations. It’s possible to create scenarios where needs aren’t ignored and the highest and best outcome is the one chosen.

It’s not how we do things in Port Orchard or South Kitsap for that matter, but it’s possible that we could.

We do have new leaders emerging.

People have finally banded together to address the skateboard park issue. I had hoped that high school representatives would step up and pull in University of Washington, Olympic College or Washington State University engineering and planning majors and get the kids themselves crafting the design, not some outside firm.

It would be good to have them be part of the process, have them understand what engineers really do.

Speaking of engineering and its requisite subject, math, I’m going to end on a baffling topic, the math WASL. Here’s a sample question from the 10th grade test:

“This is a fictionalized historical problem. King Arthur wanted to decide who was the fittest to marry his daughter, and chose this method. When all his knights were seated at the round table, he entered the room, pointed to one knight, and said: ‘You live.’ The knight seated next wasn’t so fortunate. ‘You die,’ said King Arthur, chopping off his head. To the third knight he said: ‘You live,’ and to the fourth, he said: ‘You die,’ chopping off his head. He continued doing this around and around the circle, chopping off the head of every other living knight, until just one was left. This remaining knight got to marry the daughter, but, as legend goes, he was never quite the same again. Find a pattern so you can predict where to sit (to live) no matter how many people are seated in the circle. Explain your answer in detail.”

If you can, you get a chance to graduate. It’s not a laughing matter.

Mary Colborn is a Port Orchard resident.